Dana & Hunter

Two wedding graduates back to back! What did you all do to deserve such joy?? Well, the truth is, Dana’s wedding graduate post arrived in my inbox last night, and since I’d been waiting for it for A YEAR, I couldn’t help but share it with you now. For those of you that don’t know Dana, she of The Broke-Ass Bride, she and I started blogging at exactly the same time, and both of our blogs have grown and here we are.

When I got Dana’s post, I was overwhelmed by how much her experience reflected my experience. Her post is such a great example of what I’ve been trying to say about details for ever and ever. Dana and I are both women that care about style (as do our husbands), let’s just put that out there. We both worked to make sure that our weddings were aesthetically honest – that they reflected who we were and not some mass media idea of wedding aesthetics. But both of us will tell you over and over that it’s not about the details. What’s up with that? Well. I think when we say, “It’s not about the details” what people often hear is “details don’t matter.” And of course they do. We’re humans, we experience life through the particular. And thank god for the polaroids from our wedding, or our invitations, or our Ketubah, because they help us keep an important moment in our lives close to our heart. But a wedding – as Dana’s post so eloquently shows – is not ABOUT the details. The details may be fun, or the details may be stressful, but on the day of, what is happening is so damn huge, that details are not what you’re feeling. They are not what you remember, they just sometimes help you remember what really mattered. And with all of that, I give you Dana, who will remind you of why we do this.

When we were first engaged, we were hellza overwhelmed. There were so many options, checklist items, possibilities… we didn’t know where to start. So we sat down to hammer out what mattered most, and what we could let go. We quickly realized that, to us, the wedding wasn’t just ‘an event’ or ‘one day’ but a new beginning… and we wanted to kick it all off with that in mind.
Oh, and we wanted it to be a balls-out party. Can’t leave that out . And as we talked it over, our priorities revealed themselves: an authentic and personal outdoor ceremony, diverse cultural influences, making it interactive for the guests, hype music, free-flowing drinks, full and happy bellies, great photography, eco-mindfulness, and FUN fun times. We made these things our main focus, and tried to integrate them as creatively as possible. It made the process feel much more manageable, and much more “us”.
But still as we got closer to the date, our to-do list loomed long and heavy, and I got nervous. Nervous something might go wrong. Something might be forgotten. We had to slash what felt like a zillion projects from the list, and I worried we’d regret it. But then the morning of I woke up and realized that there was nothing to be nervous about. It was what it was, no changing it now… and I just. let. go.

And what it was, was exactly what we needed it to be. I wouldn’t change a thing.

As it turns out, I don’t even remember most of the things we ended up omitting. Instead, I remember the ceremony that we crafted to reflect our own journey and priorities as a couple. The song our officiant wrote especially for us. Our hands on each other’s hearts during the vows.
Our friends and family all gathered in our honor. The ring warming ceremony. The comments from our guests about how original and personal it all was. Dancing with my dad. Getting dipped by my husband. Laughter. Hugs. Tears. Mojitos. Dancing. Saying I do. Kissing a lot.
And of course it wasn’t all perfection. I forgot my bouquet when I walked the aisle. (Didn’t faze me.) I ripped a huge hole in my dress while stomping the glass, and had to cut 2″ off my skirt at the reception. (Makes a great story.) I sprained my ankle getting “too low”on the dancefloor, got up and kept dancing, and spent our honeymoon on crutches (one of the risks of having the greatest DJ ever). But I love these memories. They made our wedding even more authentic and organic. We’re messy and imperfect and real… and I love that our wedding reflected that, too.
So don’t worry that people will think you’re “cheap” if you DIY your own flowers, omit the favors, ipod your dancefloor, or whatever the corners you cut may be. Don’t fret about what they’ll think whether you want to be married by a pastor or a pagan queen. Its your day. Do it your way. Your guests are there to celebrate you and your love. Not to criticize your chair selection. And if they do, f*ck ’em.
And don’t worry about everything being perfect. What does that even mean, anyway? What’s really perfect, is getting married at your own wedding. So just focus on that, and you’ll be juuuuuuuust fine.The rest, as they say, is cake!
My best advice? Just have FUN.
Don’t get pressured by expectation or tradition if that’s not your thing. Don’t feel you have to be uber-original, if tradition suits your fancy as a couple. Don’t be pressured to have a million perfectly coordinated details. Don’t confuse “expensive” with “better”. And don’t let self-consciousness impede your enjoyment.
DO honor your partner’s wishes and include them in decision making. DO just be your wonderful selves, and let the day be a reflection of that. DO surrender to the joy, breathe in the bliss, and let go. DO say please and thank you a lot. (Its simple, but so true). And again, have fun.
Pictures: All by the amazing Chennergy. You can even more right here.

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  • Kirsty

    I’m getting married in 17 days and these last two wedding graduate posts have really helped me to just… breathe… calm… down…

    I’m feeling so full of nervous energy and can’t quite explain why, but I think these two posts have helped me to realise that it’s ok to be interested in the little details and the aesthetics of the day, even if nobody else notices them apart from me, but that it doesn’t all have to be “perfect” and people aren’t going to be judging us – I think I keep forgetting that the wedding is actually going to be really fun! And I can just get excited about having a really fun day – the rest is, as Dana says, just cake. Mmmm, cake…

    • Heather

      I completely agree! I’m getting married this Saturday and these posts are so helpful! Just reading them makes me take a deep breath, smile, and remember what’s actually important.

    • Jessie

      I’m getting married in 17 days as well and nothing has been more helpful than reading these posts. Seeing that these brides were able to have beautiful weddings on budgets that reflected who they are really means the world to me. It’s helped me settle down about the stuff that doesn’t matter and focus on writing and perfecting my vows (the most important detail to me).

      • 17 days! Getting married this Saturday?! Ladies, happy wishes and happy wedding to all three of you! Fantastic!

  • Dang, I could have used this post in the days leading up to our wedding! But actually, everything Dana said is stuff that I got to learn on my own and I’m a living, breathing example of how right she is. Somewhere out there in wedding blogger land, I’d come to feel guilty about my obsession with the details and it was only just recently that I started to realize that it’s okay to be concerned about the details. It is not okay, on the other hand, to fall apart or have a major coronary when minor details don’t work out because you’ll drive yourself completely bonkers. In the end, I’m happy that I fretted over details because many of those details will fill our home and remind us forever of the wedding day. Yet I’m glad I wasn’t overcome by grief on the wedding day when details were forgotten or didn’t work out the way I had planned (which, I should have realized, was an inevitability). Meg and Dana are right, details matter but a wedding is not about the details. If I could have kept that in mind throughout the entire wedding planning process, I would have saved myself a lot of unnecessary stress.

  • Maybe I just missed the explanation, but what was going on in the beautiful red picture where someone was writing on your shoe? I feel like it was something really cool.

    Fantastic wedding. And those pictures… oh boy!

    • Christen

      If you head over to Dana’s blog http://www.thebrokeassbride.com it explains it in her posts of her wedding. I follow BAB as religiously as I follow APW, and actually found my photographer through BAB. Pretty killer.

      • Aw, I’m freaking dying over these comments…
        Hours before the wedding, I asked each member of the bridal party and my mom to write some words of wisdom on my shoe soles. It was magical and special, and I highly encourage it!

        • That’s so neat. I’m going to head over to your blog to check it you. What a wonderful idea!

  • Mayweed

    Wow, this is the ultimate in “but yes, of COURSE”-ness. Sanity and grace and calm AND Dana and Meg in the same place! Yay!

    I have three months to go and, I’ll be honest, I’m just starting to feel a bit stressed: about what’s left to pay for, what we’d really like but can’t afford, how much stuff I still need to make and do and I keep seeing these other pretty “thrown together by a family florist friend” weddings and “look at these details” post (yes I know, I should just. stop. reading. those. blogs.) and everyone looks so happy and glowing… and I feel inadequate because I can’t decide what colour the bunting should be, or that people might think having to collect their own food makes us cheapskates or – well, you know.

    But the last picture in this post…. that’s what it’s really about. So thanks.

    • meg

      I was stressed two months out. If it helps, it’s totally normal :)

    • Ahhhhh… everything you said = same here. I felt stressed before, but nothing like this. We are 5 weeks out and every time I think about the wedding, I want to hurl. My stomach is in knots, I’ve been getting tension headaches, and I’ve been crying. Our to-do list seems to be growing rather than shrinking and I’m freaking out a little. (Whiny Whinerson over here!)

      I know and believe that the details don’t matter and the day will be beautiful.. but right now I can’t help but feel stressed.

      • Kee

        Exactly ONE month left and I’m so so excited!!!!! I’m not so stressed, just ridiculously excited when I keep getting emails from my best friends saying “FLIGHT IS BOOKED, ARRIVING 11.30 ON THE FRIDAY, MEET ME WITH MOJITOS AT THE AIRPORT”. It all makes me want to jump up and down of joy, because how cool is it that all our favorite people are coming to see me and my man get married. It’s SUPERCOOL. Ah, so much love these days, for him, for my friends, for my family. I even feel lots of love for the 50 stupid sunflowers I miserly failed to grow on my terrace as an DIY attempt for ceremony flowers…

      • Mayweed

        Excatly – except – look at that last picture of Dana and Hunter. You don’t get that look on your face because of centerpieces and bunting (right?) That’s what I’m trying to tell myself whenever I start to get a bit “eeeeeee”. Don’t think it’ll completely stop the stressing, but it can only help!

        • That picture came as a result of a suprise video I asked the Best Man who couldn’t make it, to record a video to play at our reception. I’ll never forget that expression on Hunter’s face… and thanks to our photographer… I’ll never have to.

    • liz

      aaahhh, step AWAY from the inspiration blogs! it’s too late! your wedding is already gorgeous in a uniquely you way, and seeing what other people and their florist friends can do will only stress you out needlessly!!

      • Mayweed

        I know, I know. I AM going to clear my Google reader. I AM.

        • Jennifer

          This past weekend I went through my browser bookmarks and deleted a good hundred things from various “wedding” subfolders that were no longer applicable — all that’s left, pretty much, is a few hair inspiration pictures to print out for my stylist, a few sample day-of timelines, and the websites of vendors we’ve booked. (We’re about 2 months out; there was everything from various color scheme inspiration boards from this winter, before I decided we didn’t need a color scheme per se, to various potential vendors for services I’ve now already booked, to DIY instructions/inspiration for things I’ve already scrapped completely or gone ahead and just bought.)

          So. Freeing. I think deleting those was my favorite wedding-related thing of the past week.

        • Do it!!!

      • Its all a matter of perspective!

      • caitlin

        thanks for this. i needed to hear it today :)

    • We’re 3 months out now, too!

      APW and BAB have been amazing resources for keeping me calm. When I get freaked out and overwhelmed I can just read through some posts to bring me back to Earth. ;)

  • These pictures caused goosebumps AND a few tears.

    I had ruled our garter/bouquet tossing-ness at our wedding but boy oh boy do those shots make me reconsider! Lovely!

    • Thought the same thing when I saw the pic of the groom sliding the garter off with his teeth.

      • liz

        isn’t it awesome how things that may come off as “cheesy” when they’re forced, are just AMAZING when they’re genuine and full of happiness??

    • I love the pic of Dana being fitted into her wedding gown, her expression and body language is priceless!

      And also, I kinda want to party with a woman who will sprain her ankle and keep right on dancing!

    • I’m still glad I’d ruled it out, but this is proof that when you do the things that you truly want to do, it totally works.

  • I love her.

    • j

      the pic of Dana through the tree with her hands at her face – F’n PRICELESS! Absolutely stunning & 100% REAL. Man, I love good photography.

      Congrats on your beautiful union – you two look BEYOND happy… and THAT is what it’s all about.

  • EXACTLY. Thank you, ladies!

    And dayum, how gorgeous are Dana & Hunter?!

  • Moz

    Dana, this is such a great post. Love your dress, btw – really gorgeous. Congrats on your marriage x

  • I was so excited when I opened my reader and saw Dana and Hunter’s picture! Broke Ass Bride is the only other wedding blog I make a point to read every day. And every time Dana talks about her wedding it makes me cry.

  • Katelyn

    I just want to jump into all these Wedding Graduate photos like some trippy kid’s movie and party down.

  • Kate

    Wow, both the garter shot and you two toasting together are iconic pictures. You look beautiful! Best wishes for a lovely marriage : )

  • These pictures are GORGEOUS! I’m dying to know what’s being written on Dana’s shoe…!!

  • So beautiful. I’m glad Dana finally shared her wedding, because it was looks like such a happy event and it is so good to read her reflection on it. Thank you.

  • kristen denning

    Where is that gorgeous dress from!?!? i LOVE it. Dana, you are so beautiful!

    • Aw, thanks! My dress is an eco-friendly gown from Deborah Lindquist. I worked at her studio cutting fabric and processing invoices to barter away half the cost because I just. had. to have it! It was so special… I’m incredibly grateful to Deb for working it out with my broke-ass self!

  • lani

    Beautiful and meaningful. Perfect.
    I’m 17 days away (there’s a few of us here apparently) and although I’ve been a very organized/really laid-back bride, the last month or so has been stressful. As the hugeness of what we’re about to do has finally sunk in and started to overwhelm me (in a good way), the aesthetics details are stressing me out! I know on the day of, I probably will not care about the stupid centerpieces but right now, they are totally on my mind!! So, posts like this one and the comments that follow only reassure me of how normal I am. And I will live through this and probably have a fantastic day. Please cross your fingers. ALL OF YOU!! Thanks.
    Thanks Meg for being awesome and bringing other awesome people into my life and my wedding & marriage planning.

    • Kirsty

      Fingers duly crossed for you (and for me!)

  • ddayporter

    yayyy Dana! these photos. dangggg. I had seen some of them before but that one at the end was new to me and definitely made me tear up.

  • Jen M


  • liz

    1) dress. <3
    2) photography. <3<3
    3) i love that we're finding that balance between WICness of "details, details, details!!!" and the indie anti-details crusade. have a wedding that reflects you. sheesh. and if you care about pretty things, try to make it pretty, for crying out loud! but don't worry. because after you stain your dress, sprain your ankle, and the favors melt in the heat- you'll be MARRIED.

    • Liz, I wanted to “Exactly!” this two or ten more times but I couldn’t. High five. ;)

    • I know! I have felt at times like I’m too focused on decor and at other times like I’m not focused enough. It’s great to see the contrast and most of all, acceptance, here.

    • And THIS is why I read this blog. Religiously. Every day. The sensible intelligent grounded women who comment on here (and of course Meg) are who I aspire to be when I grow up.

      I have spent 6 months being totally freaked out by the need to make my wedding live up to all of the 39 ‘inspirational’ wedding blogs I have in my reader. Followed by a huge feeling of guilt that I even cared about this kind of stuff, because, you know, I should just care about getting married to my man, and not give a damn about the details. But this comment and this post in general just sum up what I’ve realised in the last few weeks. It’s ok to want my wedding to look nice. Because that’s who I am – I like things to be pretty. It’s even ok to have a vague colour scheme. But it’s also ok if it all goes wrong, and me and my man are stood in a church, on our own with the vicar, because the most important thing is that we’ll be getting married.

      Thank you for freeing me from the worry and guilt cycle I’d been drawn into by the WIC and blogs in general. You guys rock.

  • Amazing wedding and photos! And I totally love your gown, girl.

    First, I love what Dana writes here: “We quickly realized that, to us, the wedding wasn’t just ‘an event’ or ‘one day’ but a new beginning… and we wanted to kick it all off with that in mind.” Yes! Hooray for not having “indie guilty” about putting lots of time, energy, thought, and maybe money into your wedding!

    Also, I’m loving what Meg and Dana are saying about details mattering but not being the focus. The whole journey of letting go of some projects and dreams and holding on tight to others has been a real eye-opener for me.

    Example: A whopping 15% of our budget is going to my vintage-y gown, make up, and hair. Thus, we plan to use Party City paper tablecloths to compensate for it. I’m realizing now that it’s such a special thing to present yourself in a way that feels really “you”. And for ME, that means looking like my best self (not making a table look like its best self). I used to feel guilty about this, but now not really.

    …And as for the inevitable imperfections the big day, I know I’ll dance until my hair extensions (I’ve got thin hair and it makes me sad) start flying off into someone’s cake. But like Dana said about her sprained ankle, it makes a great story. And heck, it was all in the name of my best dance move.

    So yeah. Details SO matter but aren’t the heart of the thing. Thanks for the post, Dana and Meg!

  • So incredibly perfect. Thanks for sharing Dana – you look gorgeous and were able to put into words just how I want to feel about my own upcoming wedding. Love it, love it, love it!!!

    p.s. What did you do to your hair? It looks fantastic!

    • Thanks Melinda! My stylist curled it all into tight shirley temple spirals, and then brushed it out a bit to loosen them up. My hair doesn’t hold curl very well, so they loosened more and more as the day went on. I wish my hair could look like that every day!

  • peanut

    LOVE IT!!!! Those photos are UHMAYZING! Your advice is perfect for me right now; we are two months out and I am taking a break from stressing; we’ve been planning this thing for over a year and I just want to enjoy it already! Dana, you are one of the bloggers that kept things real for me during my temporary bout of wedding insanity right after our engagement. Thank you for that, and thank you for this.

  • “What’s really perfect is getting married at your own wedding.”

    That’s my new mantra. Seriously, amen.

    I will add that I discovered Dana’s blog only a few days before she got married and was struck by how down-to-earth and sane this crazy gorgeous girl with this crazy gorgeous wedding was. It was lovely to read about, and wonderful to relive here. Congrats again!

  • Allison

    I have to confess that I only starting looking at WeddingBee because miss Dana here was the wonderful Miss (now mrs.) Meatball…
    I love details in OTHER peoples weddings. Monogrammed handkerchiefs, hand gocco’d programs, DIY favors and flowers but I really don’t have a whole lot of details in my own wedding and I’m okay with that.
    I think I’m on the anti-details crusade, but not because I hate them or I’m being “indie”, I’m really just LAZY and my fiance doesn’t really give to sh*ts about details…except for the invitations which he hand crafted and made so deliciously “detaily” they make me want to cry.
    We’re getting married at his grandmother’s house at the end of the month so all of the time left for “handcrafting” something has been taken up by planting flowerbeds and trimming back orange trees.

  • “DO honor your partner’s wishes and include them in decision making. DO just be your wonderful selves, and let the day be a reflection of that. DO surrender to the joy, breathe in the bliss, and let go. DO say please and thank you a lot. (Its simple, but so true). And again, have fun.”

    Great advise on all days and I’d imagine especially on a wedding day. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful words and breathtaking photographs.

  • Mary

    Aaaaahhhhh…Dana and Hunter…so wise beyond your years. You guys STILL make me smile!

  • A-L

    Let me just make this superficial comment. I LOVE your photography. One of my favorite EVER photo shoots (do we even use the term photo shoot for a wedding?). Just fabulous.

  • Mary

    What a great perspective on details. I’m six months out, and I’ve found that putting joint effort into certain details brings us closer together and really enriches the planning process. I struggled to find an invitation design that I liked when I discovered that my university has a small letterpress studio in the basement of the library. So we designed our own invitations and spent hours letterpressing them ourselves, with no cost to us but that of the paper (!). We got to learn a new art together, and damn, do we love those invitations.

    Ohh, Dana. Those pictures. They leave me speechless.

  • Em

    This wedding looks like it was the most fun EVER. And its nice to see weddings featured where the pictures are more about the people involved and less about all the pretty extra stuff. The pretties are great, but the pictures and the wedding itself are much more compelling without all the extras.

    It’s nice to see that this is about the couple getting married and not just about a bunch of stuff the couple likes.

  • Just wonderful. Dana you are awesome. Your wedding was gorgeous and your advice is even better.

  • Kimberly

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for these post’s! I am getting married on Sunday and it has been such a rolled coaster. With crazy family, my dress being destroyed 25 day’s before the ceremony and a triple interview for my dream job it has been a loooong two months.

    I read you blog and remind myself that the only “details” that matter (to us) is that we are getting MARRIED!

    *g* You heard my girly squeal didn’t you?

    Three more day’s and a wake up.

  • I’m getting married in 24 days and am really starting to feel the crunch to get those projects nailed down….I am really looking forward to the wedding zen…..that will be nice. I’ll echo the sentiment of the upcoming brides as well…these last wedding graduate posts are good reading.

  • Our wedding is six months away & I need to save this post to re-read when it gets close & the stress starts to overwhelm me. Hopefully, that won’t happen. Just in case.

    Good luck & best wishes to all the APW Brides with weddings coming soon!

  • Alyssa

    AHHH! I love Dana’s wedding, I stalked her ever since I found her blog and found her an amazing inspiration. Plus, how gorgeous are they?

    Also? She’s totally besties with a friend of mine from college (which I didn’t realize until after Dana and Hunter’s wedding!) so I totally got to see a couple behind the scenes pics and Dana is just as beautiful when photgraphed with a regular camera as she is with the amazing one her photographer used.
    (can I have some follow me around and take pictures of me like that? Please? Everyone needs some stunningly artsy photos like that in their life….)

  • LOVE hearing this side of Dana’s wedding!! Her photographer was amazing…we’re thinking of splurging in that arena, and this post is every so persuasive…

    • Lizzie, we actually WON that photography as one of Dan Chen’s RENTwedding recipients. We sent in a letter explaining why we hoped to have him shoot our wedding, even though we couldn’t afford him… and we still can’t believe the good fortune of being his choice!

  • a

    So beautiful and true… blessings and years and years and years of love to you both.

    p.s. Your photographs frikkin *RULE!!!!

  • Wait. How do you exactly a whole post? At this point all I want from my wedding is ecstatic photos like those. So so good. It kinda makes me want to eat cotton candy and sing “Free to Be You and Me.”

  • I too started my blog and joined both of you on your journey to walking down the aisle. And all of the real brides who had blogs really helped me see the true meaning. There was a moment too when I got caught up in having all the details of what i saw online. And then my now husband and I sat down and say hey when we have a stressful moment remember the big picture and what this really is about!! LOVE BOTH OF YOUR WEDDINGS AND BLOGS! YOU LADIES ROCK!

  • OMG THIS IS IT…right here…I-T, it! love love love

    and looooooooooove your blog my dear :)

  • These photos!! Like a fairytale. She’s so beautiful! It’s all so beautiful! Ahhh!

  • Great advice. I think many of us often get caught up in the expectations of family or friends when what really matters is just you and your spouse to be.

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